ANKARA: Dialogue With European Greens

Hurriyet, Turkey
Oct 22 2004

Dialogue With European Greens
BYEGM: 10/22/2004

HURRIYET- The European Greens’ meeting in Istanbul this week was very
useful for both us and them. Firstly, I’m sure the Greens group has
never been covered by the continental media this much, except for
just after they were founded. Of course this interest comes from the
fact that the group has the most positive stance in the European
Parliament on Turkey’s European Union bid: It favors starting
negotiations with a view to full membership. German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer stressed a few days ago that the alternative of
`special partnership’ was unacceptable. Their clear stance on this is
very important. We’re heartened by it, but this wasn’t the most
important aspect of the meeting. Its most important message was that
it was the first step of a difficult dialogue. Fischer meant it when
he said, `European political culture also includes talking about
difficult subjects.’ The European parliamentarians said repeatedly
that Turkey was a proud country, but they also reminded us that such
issues as the so-called Armenian genocide, the Cyprus issue and the
Kurdish problem would be discussed during our negotiations. `The more
you take real steps to reform, the fewer negotiations will there be,’
said Fischer. `It would be good for both parties if you implement
these reforms as soon as possible.’

Of course, we weren’t the only one who heard unwanted words. Some
European Greens didn’t like certain criticisms from the Turks.
Membership negotiations between Ankara and the EU will be difficult.
If we can succeed in establishing a dialogue within ourselves, we
won’t have problems with the membership talks. Now we’re at the most
difficult stage. Ankara objected to Fischer’s statement when he said,
`Don’t criticize the European Commission’s report, and, when you
criticize it, don’t miss the target.’ Getting a date for membership
talks is Ankara’s number one goal. Turkey wants the European
Commission to decide to start the talks in the first half of 2005.
Ankara is also against open-ended negotiations. Fischer stated,
`Europe needs time and it also needs modernization. The commission’s
report is a work of art.’ Instead of those who think like Fischer and
oppose discussions with Brussels, I consider the government’s stance